First Post, First Balsa Build and Many Kudos. Feedback Appreciated.


New member
This is my first post ever. I'm going to start with some thank you's and inspiration. If you would like to skip ahead to my balsa build, please scroll down.

I’ve consumed so much content from many of you over the past year. You are all so gracious with your time by sharing your experiences. This community is truly an amazing place. I feel it is my time to give back a little and share. Before I provide any details of my first balsa build, I want to give credit where credit is due. FliteTest, thank you for giving so much! I wouldn’t be here today building model after model without you. I’m sure many of you out there can relate.

For me, It all started as a young boy. I was already an RC enthusiast racing Team Associated cars at the local track. Yet, I’ll never forget my first experience encountering RC planes, I sure was excited! I went to a friends house and recall seeing balsa built planes hanging from the ceiling of the basement and one being worked on a bench in the corner. I was to say the least, very intrigued. Unfortunately, my friend had no interest in allowing me to spend much time looking at them. I was made to feel as if I would have been banned from the home if I ever even contemplated touching one of his dad’s prized possessions. That experience left a lasting impression on me, stay away from airplanes.

Fast forward 30 years and FliteTest haphazardly crossed paths with me while sifting through DIY content on YouTube. I was instantly intrigued and brought back to those memories of my childhood. With one exception! These seemed to be within my grasp :) I felt as if it would be ok if I touched them, heck, it would even be ok if I crashed them. Build, Fly, Crash, Repeat! That motto made me feel so comfortable. I just had to experience what I began to dream of as a child.

Just a couple of days after learning about FliteTest and obsessively watching video after video, I visited my first Dollar Tree store to pick up a few sheets of foam. I was hooked. I was soon ordering boxes of the stuff and building, waterproofing and painting planes faster than I could get them outside to experience the thrill of their maiden flight. Within a years time, I have amassed over 25 (still) operational FT designs.

I have 3 children ranging from 12 to 2. Without FliteTest I don’t think I would have been able to give them what I missed out on as a child. The opportunity to touch, feel and experience every intricate detail of these amazing machines. There is no fear or trepidation in just handing them a plane to throw around as a glider or even passing a transmitter to watch them learn to fly on their own. It is much easier to relax and enjoy the moment when you don't have to worry about ruining your investment. I’ve learned, grown as an individual and created memories that will last a lifetime. For this, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart FliteTest. Now onto more about my first balsa build.


First Balsa Build

Keeping true to the FT experience, I decided I should scratch build my first balsa plane too. I love working with wood, but working with the intricacies of balsa was an entirely new learning experience. Knowing this material would be different than I was used to, I decided to keep things simple. I located plenty of balsa plans on Outerzone, it was just a matter of narrowing down which plane. I chose a Baby Stik, it’s a nice simple design without complex curves. With a 34” wingspan I feel it’s a decent size park flyer that I can hopefully fly almost anywhere, yet still keep track of in the sky. I built it with removable wings to accommodate easy transport even in a backpack. I added an FT 2218 Radial motor which should provide a great flight envelope based upon the prop and battery combination. I plan to maiden this plane with a 3s battery and 8x4 prop which should roughly yield a 1.3 to 1 thrust/weight ratio. If I were to pair this with a 9x4.7 prop on 4s this thing should turn into quite an acrobatic machine producing closer to a 4 to 1 thrust/weight ratio.

I’ve been testing the CG with a 3s 2200 LiPo pack. With the battery inserted all the way to the nose, the plane balances on the trailing edge of the spar. All up weight with this battery takes the plane from 465g to 610g. I believe this should be sufficient to get the plane trotting along for the maiden. Please comment if you feel otherwise.

I was initially thinking of keeping this setup for belly landings as so many of my FT designs are. But, I am second guessing that thought process and am contemplating adding landing gear. After all touch and goes are so much fun! This should also help me with my CG as I have plenty of cavity space to push the battery back further too. If I did decide to forego landing gear, should I expect much damage to the Monokote from belly landings?

As if you couldn’t have guessed it, I’m yet to maiden this plane and am already thinking what I should build next. I've been thinking of building a night flyer. I already have a couple of LED strips and power boards lying around just waiting to be used. Any suggestions?

What are your thoughts? Please let me know if you see me going wrong somewhere before I get this bird off the ground. I keep hearing balsa flies better and I can’t wait to experience it for myself.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you and getting out to the field soon :)

Thanks for reading,


Weight: 465g w/o battery
Length: 29” 736mm
Wing Span: 34” 864mm
Engine: FT Radial 2218 1180kv
Prop: 8x4
Battery: TBD (2200 3s balances the plane on the trailing edge of the spar. Battery weight: 145g)

Thrust to Weight Ratio (w/o battery)
3s - 8x4 = 802g thrust (1.7 to 1 / thrust to weight)
3s - 9x4.7 = 1194g thrust (2.5 to 1 / thrust to weight)
3s - 10x4.7 = 1406g thrust (3 to 1 / thrust to weight)
4s - 8x4 = 1352g thrust (2.9 to 1 / thrust to weight)
4s - 9x4.7 = 1898g thrust (4 to 1 / thrust to weight)

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